Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/4/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/4/2009President Ahmadinejad has canceled his planned trip to Brazil. There’s more to this than meets the eye — check with Fausta to find out the latest.

In other news, 1,000 lbs. of high-grade nitrate fertilizer was stolen from a lawn-care business in Tuscumbia, Alabama. And, yes, that’s the kind of fertilizer that can be used to make explosives.

Thanks to AA, Barry Rubin, CSP, Fausta, islam o’phobe, JCPA, JD, PatriotUSA, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Guess Who’s Riding to Rescue of Those Failing Newspapers
No More California
1000 Pounds of Fertilizer Stolen
Frank Gaffney: the Denuclearizers’ Bridge-Jump
Gingrich: Obama Endangering Israel
Greens Planning to Lie More Effectively About Global Warming
Guess How DHS Defines Who is a Terrorist Now
James Baker Backs Reinstating the Draft
The President Who Hates His Country
Europe and the EU
Alarm at EU Passports for Moldova
Denmark: Suspected Thief Killed by Pursuing Car
EU ‘Spending Billions of Our Money on Absurd Projects’
France Considers Ban on ‘Anti-Zionist’ Voting Lists
In Search of Europe: France
UK: Asylum Seeker Who Killed Girl, 12, in Hit and Run Walks Free Despite Judge Recommending Deportation
UK: Baby P Killer’s Human Rights Outrage as Sadist Set to Appeal Rape Conviction of Girl, 2
Video: Selling the Marshall Plan on Celluloid
Israel and the Palestinians
Obama Administration Withdraws Proposed Concessions to Hamas
Middle East
Hizbullah’s Struggle to Change the Lebanese Regime
In Israel, Solar Power That Won’t Need Subsidies
Far East
China: ‘Green’ Lightbulbs Poison Workers
Australia — Pacific
Illegal Immigrants Who Overstay Visas Will No Longer be Put in Detention Camps
Sub-Saharan Africa
Obama’s Grandmother to Perform Muslim Hajj
Latin America
Ahmadinejad Cancels Trip to Brazil
Culture Wars
Sex Instruction Book Where Did I Really Come From? Aimed at Toddlers
Fighting Mid-Life Flab? We Reveal the Hormonal Truth About Middle Age Spread
Slaughtered by Their Own

Financial Crisis

Guess Who’s Riding to Rescue of Those Failing Newspapers

‘King and queen of toxic mortgages’ underwrite ‘independent’ investigative reporting — with a tilt

WASHINGTON — With newspapers dropping dead like the flies they once swatted, a new non-profit riding to the rescue with free, ready-made “independent investigative reporting” is accepting money from a billionaire couple with a far-left agenda and dubbed “the king and queen of toxic mortgages.”

Herb and Marion Sandler, who sold their Golden West Financial Corp. to Wachovia and nearly bankrupted the buyer with its portfolio of subprime loans, committed $10 million to Pro Publica Inc., the non-profit that promises underwritten hard-hitting investigative journalism that has a “moral force” to newspapers facing cutbacks in staff and elimination of editions.

But, according to a report by Capital Research Center, the Sandlers have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to, George Soros’ Democracy Alliance, David Brock’s Media Matters, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, the William J. Clinton Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Institute for Public Policy, the Natural Resources Defense Council and two affiliates of the voter-fraud tainted ACORN, the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now — and many other groups and causes with a portside tilt.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

No More California

California’s increasingly severe and largely self-inflicted economic crisis will deepen May 19 if, as is probable and desirable, voters reject most of the ballot measures that were drafted as part of a “solution” to the state’s budget deficit. They would make matters worse. National economic revival is being impeded because one-eighth of the nation’s population lives in a state that is driving itself into permanent stagnation. California’s perennial boast — that it is the incubator of America’s future — now has an increasingly dark urgency.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


1000 Pounds of Fertilizer Stolen

Burglars targeted a Tuscumbia business early Thursday morning. What’s most alarming is what the thieves took from business. The stolen property is potential dangerous material.

Approximately 1,000 pounds of high-grade nitrate fertilizer was taken from Greens Keepers on Gann Boulevard in Tuscumbia. The company handles fertilization and weed control for residential and commercial lawns. The owner, John Wagner, says he’s been in business for twelve years and nothing like this has ever happened.

“It’s very unusual,” says Wagner. “It was a very big shock to walk in at 7:00 a.m. and see all this gone.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: the Denuclearizers’ Bridge-Jump

At one point or another, everybody tries to justify their participation in behavior that defies common sense and good judgment by claiming that someone else, usually older and putatively smarter, told them to do it. Often someone genuinely smarter and typically older — a teacher, a parent, a coach — responds with something to the effect that, “If Johnny told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?”

Generally, the answer is the commonsensical “No.” Yet now, a gaggle of Johnnys — notably former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry and other worthies who should know better — are telling the American people that it is safe and responsible to do the national equivalent of jumping off a bridge. They contend that the United States can prudently get rid of most of our nuclear arsenal, enroute to what they say is a desirable end-state: a “nuclear-free” world…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

Gingrich: Obama Endangering Israel

‘They are systematically setting up the most decisive confrontation’

Former US House speaker Newt Gingrich on Sunday blasted the Obama administration for setting itself on a collision course with Israel and endangering the Jewish state, ahead of his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“They are systematically setting up the most decisive confrontation that we’ve ever seen,” the leading Republican politician told The Jerusalem Post, referring to news reports about the administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“There’s almost an eagerness to take on the Israeli government to make a point with the Arab world,” he said, speaking to the Post ahead of his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference.

He called US President Barack Obama’s program of engagement on Iran a “fantasy,” and his Middle East policies “very dangerous for Israel.” He summed up Obama’s approach as “the clearest adoption of weakness since Jimmy Carter.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Greens Planning to Lie More Effectively About Global Warming

The New York Times reports that environmentalists inadvertently emailed a copy of a memo in which they argued their vocabulary needs a strategic overhaul:

The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is “global warming.”

The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.

Instead of grim warnings about global warming, the firm advises, talk about “our deteriorating atmosphere.” Drop discussions of carbon dioxide and bring up “moving away from the dirty fuels of the past.” Don’t confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like “cap and cash back” or “pollution reduction refund.”

[Return to headlines]

Guess How DHS Defines Who is a Terrorist Now

2nd ‘domestic extremism’ report includes ‘alternative media,’ ‘tax resisters’ in lexicon

Apparently, the DHS analyzes the “threat” level of Internet news websites like WorldNetDaily, for the lexicon defines “alternative media” as “a term used to describe various information sources that provide a forum for interpretations of events and issues that differ radically from those presented in mass media products and outlets.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

James Baker Backs Reinstating the Draft

Rep. Charlie Rangel, Congress’s lone champion of reinstating the military draft, can count on another Korean War-era vet for support: Republican James Baker, a soldier in the Reagan and Bush administrations. Baker, secretary of state during the first Gulf War, visited a private girls’ school in Virginia, where he was asked how to attract kids into some kind of service that gives them a stake in the country’s future. “This is a very unpopular thing that I am about to say,” he warned. “But one thing that makes it harder to go to war is to have a draft, because when you have a draft, then everybody’s got a stake in it, and the costs of war are brought home much more vividly and vigorously to the American people. I think national service is a wonderful idea.” But unlikely, he conceded: “You get killed if you support a draft, politically, but it sure would raise the stakes. Everybody would understand a lot better what we have at stake when we go to war.”

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

The President Who Hates His Country

Bizarre and, yes, repugnant as it is to our essentially centrist country, America now has a president who has broken that time-honored tradition. Barack Obama, on the campaign trail and as the leader of the free world is the first U.S. president to proclaim to anyone within earshot that he, like his wife, is not proud of his country, and is all-too-willing to offer serial apologies — for America! — to Americans and foreigners alike.

As Ed Lasky writes: “We know that during the campaign [Obama] warned that criticism of his wife was ‘off-limits’. But criticism of America — well, that is fine.”

We also know that during his run for the presidency, Obama expressed sneering condescension towards all those bible-clasping, gun-owning yahoos who “cling” to those silly things, and that in Europe he consistently gave voice to America’s supposed “sins.” But all that pales in comparison to the clear contempt — looks more like hatred to me — that Obama feels for the United States of America and for its most revered founding document, the U.S. Constitution.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Alarm at EU Passports for Moldova

The EU will this week launch talks with six Eastern European neighbours on closer relations — including Moldova, which only last month was rocked by violence following a disputed election.

Moldova is Europe’s most impoverished country and its 4.1 million people can only travel to the EU if they have a special visa. But Romania has offered passports to up to one million Moldovans — alarming both Moldova and some in the EU, says the BBC’s Oana Lungescu.

Step into the ornate building of the central post office in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, and you see small crowds of people huddling around a big marble-topped table.

Each one is filling out an application for Romanian citizenship. Dozens more queue up to get the forms; others wait in line to post them to the Romanian embassy.

“It’s because we haven’t got work here,” one woman says. “We want to look for work in Romania or Europe. With a Romanian passport it’s going to be easier.”

A young man in the queue says a Romanian passport is “a chance to see the world”.

“I want to raise my family in Moldova, but I also want to travel, meet new people,” he adds. “This is my future.”

Law changes

Around 1,000 people a day have come to the post office in the past few weeks, since Romania changed its citizenship law to speed up procedures for Moldovans, following the violent anti-government riots that erupted in the former Soviet republic last month after a disputed election.

The change was initiated by President Traian Basescu in an unusual tit-for-tat move after his Moldovan counterpart, Vladimir Voronin, accused Romania of backing the protesters, expelled its ambassador and re-introduced visa requirements for Romanians.

Mr Basescu said he could not allow “a new Iron Curtain” to descend on the border with Moldova, most of which was part of Romania until it was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.

The decision may be political bluster ahead of Romania’s presidential election later this year, but some commentators said Mr Basescu was trying to leave Mr Voronin “without people”.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Suspected Thief Killed by Pursuing Car

A teenage boy suspected by a neighbour of trying to steal was pursued by car, ending in a fatal accident that led to the young boy’s death

A man who believed his ATV was being stolen by a group of teens chased the boys in his car, hitting and killing one.

The incident occurred in a town outside Århus at around 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. The 16-year-old boy slipped on the grass while trying to flee the car and got pinned under the vehicle after being hit. He later died of his injuries at Århus Hospital.

According to witnesses, the group of boys were causing chaos throughout the neighbourhood, breaking into several cars and houses.

The 35-year-old driver has been charged with involuntary manslaughter but may get off scot-free, according to Lars Bo Langsted, law professor at Aalborg University.

‘Anyone who has been the victim of a crime against their person or property has, according to the law, the right to defend themselves,’ said Langsted. ‘Even a person that goes far beyond what might actually be allowed in that regard can still come away free of punishment.’

In February, Hell’s Angels member Jørn Jønke Nielsen was acquitted by a city court after stabbing another man to death. Nielsen had pleaded self-defence in the case.

Langsted added, however, that the car chase in Sunday’s incident was neither ‘necessary nor defensible’ by law, in his opinion.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

EU ‘Spending Billions of Our Money on Absurd Projects’

Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being spent by the EU on ‘absurd’ projects, a report warns today.

Researchers found Brussels has given grants to fund activities from a carnival to a programme to try to ‘define God’.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said the UK contributed £9billion to the EU in 2007 and received £4.3billion back in EU grants.

Despite the European Commission’s historic unwillingness to say where the money goes, it is now clear large sums have been spent on ‘scandalous’ projects, the group claimed.

Official figures revealed that £137,000 had been spent on a ‘carnival and celebration’ to enable understanding of the history and creativity of those with African descent.

An actors’ union received £103,000 for a project examining discrimination against older women performers.

Some £1.4million was spent on an ‘Explaining Religion’ programme at Oxford University, the campaign group said.

Another £96,000 was spent allowing 15 artists from nine European countries to gather in Liverpool for three weeks working with cultural organisations and community groups.

The report also claimed the EU funded visits to the European Commission and Parliament by business group ‘Forward Ladies Europe’, suggesting tax money was being used ‘to bribe people to speak up in favour of the EU political project’.

More than £68,000 was also spent on merchandising to promote the EU, the report said.

This included pencils, clocks, mousemats, key fobs and stickers for distribution when EU officials visited schools and colleges.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France Considers Ban on ‘Anti-Zionist’ Voting Lists

France is examining the possibility of banning the “anti-Zionist” voting lists French comedian Dieudonne wants to present for the European Parliament elections in June, a senior advisor of President Nicolas Sarkozy has said.

“The public authorities are currently looking into whether [Dieudonne’s] initiatives are within the reach of the law,” Claude Gueant, the secretary-general of the Elysee Palace, said on Sunday (3 May) on France’s Radio J.

“I am not sure that we will manage to prohibit them. We can only prohibit what the law allows to prohibit.”

At the end of last month, the controversial comedian said he would present at least five “anti-Zionist” lists for the European elections in June, which would include Alain Soral, former member of the far-right National Front, and Yahia Gouasmi, president of the Anti-Zionist Party — a French nationalist movement.

During the press conference launching the campaign, Mr Gouasmi said: “Behind every divorce, there is a Zionist, I am telling you. Behind everything that divides human nature, there is a Zionist. This is what we believe and this is what we are going to prove.”

Mr Gueant called the initiative “absolutely outrageous.”

“Can somebody present himself at the elections with an openly anti-Semitic programme?” he said. “Dieudonne is anti-Semitic all the time.”

The 43-year-old Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, the son of a French mother and Cameroonian father, has several times been given fines for making anti-Jewish comments, notably during his shows.

These included calling Jews “black slave traders” and claiming they exploit the Holocaust to avoid political criticism in what he called “memorial pornography.”

‘Only anti-Zionist list’

Reacting to the announcement, Mr Dieudonne stood by his idea.

“I think it is absolutely impossible to ban a list, a law would need to be passed [for this to happen] and the period of time is extremely short,” he told French news agency AFP.

“We will be the only anti-Zionist list, the only list to frontally oppose that extremely powerful Zionist lobby of which Mr Gueant is the echo today as a good little soldier,” he added.

For his part, Mr Soral attacked the fact that Mr Gueant’s comments were made for Radio J, a radio station of the Jewish community.

“This is outrageous. What he [Claude Gueant] said, where he said it … means that the state is following the orders of the Zionist lobby in France,” he told AFP.

But Xavier Bertrand, the leader of the governing conservative UMP party, defended Mr Gueant’s views.

“Lists that have hatred as their only engine have nothing to do with the democratic debate,” he said.

Dieudonne should on Tuesday appear before the Magistrate’s Court of Paris, following fresh accusations of “racial insults.”

The same day, Israel’s hard-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, will be meeting French government officials in Paris as a part of his tour aiming to reassure the Europeans about the new Israeli government’s policy on peace with Palestine.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

In Search of Europe: France

The EU’s eastward enlargement seems to have few fans in France, where fears about competition for jobs and declining French influence in Europe are widespread, the BBC’s Jonny Dymond reports.

There is always something of a paradox about France and the EU.

If you listen to French leaders — local, regional or national — the EU is France’s destiny.

After all, was it not a French creation? Does the European flag not flutter from tens of thousands of town halls across the land?

And was not the French presidency of the Union last year a triumph that reminded lesser countries (all 26 of them) just how these things should be done?

Economic unease on the streets of Nancy

But if you talk to French citizens — of all classes and ages — there are doubts, hesitations, questions about the EU that reflect French insecurity about both the direction of the EU and France’s place within it.

There is nothing like the angry scepticism you find in Britain.

But there is genuine mystification about how what was once a cosy, pretty much French-led club is now a sprawling organisation with 27 members, where France has to work hard to get herself heard.

Taking to the streets

It is the last big round of enlargements that causes most consternation.

In Nancy, in eastern France, thousands of people from the region took to the streets on May Day to protest about rising unemployment, the government’s economic policies and the protesters’ perennial bete noire — education reforms.

In the demonstration, under a banner of the communist-influenced trade union CGT, marched Guy Pernin.

He is a CGT official from a recently-closed tyre factory, about half an hour’s drive from town.

Mr Pernin is convinced that the machinery from the factory is being sent to Poland to be used by cheaper Polish workers.

Michelin, the factory’s owner, refused to comment on the machinery’s final destination.

“All the French industrial groups are going to eastern Europe these days,” says Mr Pernin.

“Michelin told us we were obsolete, that we were no longer worth anything. Michelin is using systems put in place at the European level, to take our machines and continue their production.”

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

UK: Asylum Seeker Who Killed Girl, 12, in Hit and Run Walks Free Despite Judge Recommending Deportation

A failed asylum seeker who left a young girl dying under the wheels of his car after a hit-and-run accident has been freed to the disgust of her family.

Aso Mohammed Ibrahim was due to be deported after his applications for asylum and citizenship were kicked out.

But the 31-year-old Iraqi Kurd has been released on bail from custody while he makes yet another appeal to stay in the UK. He says it is too dangerous for him to return to his homeland.

The father of 12-year-old Amy Houston, who was mowed down by Ibrahim’s Rover car as she went to the shops more than five years ago, has spoken of his outrage.

Paul Houston, 39, an engineer, said: ‘It’s an insult to my daughter. I walk around the street and I’m looking over my shoulder every two minutes thinking, “Am I going to see this bloke?”

‘How many more appeals does he get? It is my duty as a father to see this through to the end.

‘If I didn’t fight then another person would find themselves in this position and I don’t want anybody else’s kid to get killed. He’s just laughing at the British justice system. It is so wrong.’

Weeks before the fatal accident, Ibrahim, who was living in Blackburn, had been banned for nine months for driving while disqualified, without insurance and without a licence. He has never held one.

Amy, who lived in nearby Darwen with her mother Joanne, was outside her home in November 2003 when she was knocked down after running into the path of Ibrahim’s car.

She was trapped beneath it but Ibrahim responded by getting out and running off.

A police officer drove an ambulance to hospital so both paramedics on board could treat Amy but she died in hospital that day.

Ibrahim, who has married a British woman and has two children with her, was jailed for four months by Blackburn magistrates for driving while disqualified and failing to stop after an accident.

The maximum they could have given him was six months but they were required to give him credit for an early guilty plea.

Since then he has exhausted all his applications to stay in the UK and he was seized in October last year by the UK Border Agency which said he would be deported ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

But he has won a court appeal against him being detained while his deportation case is being processed.

He was freed by an immigration judge this week to the outrage of the family, Justice Secretary Jack Straw and the Border Agency.

Mr Straw, MP for Blackburn, said: ‘I am very concerned. I’m making arrangements to speak to Amy’s family and also with the Home Secretary.’

A spokesman for the Border Agency said: ‘We are extremely disappointed at the court’s decision — we vigorously opposed bail for this man.

‘Individuals with no rights to remain in the UK will sometimes attempt to frustrate the removal process, but the public can be rest assured we will continue to work towards their removal as quickly as possible.’

The agency said it could not estimate how long it would take before a decision was made on Ibrahim, who will have to report to a police station as part of his bail conditions.

Road safety groups campaigned for years for stiffer penalties for killer drivers to be introduced.

In 2007, the Government introduced longer prison sentences for people causing a death while driving a car while disqualified or without valid insurance.

           — Hat tip: PatriotUSA [Return to headlines]

UK: Baby P Killer’s Human Rights Outrage as Sadist Set to Appeal Rape Conviction of Girl, 2

The thug responsible for the death of Baby P is set to use human rights legislation to appeal over his conviction for raping a two-year-old girl.

Lawyers for the sadistic brute made eight separate attempts to have his rape trial thrown out at the Old Bailey.

Now they are expected to take the case to the Appeal Court, arguing that his victim, now four, was too young and ‘incompetent’ to give evidence.

And they will claim that the 32-year-old’s right to a fair trial, set out in Article Six of the Human Rights Act, was breached.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Video: Selling the Marshall Plan on Celluloid

The shoemaker and the hat-maker are neighbours who do not see eye to eye.

The hat-maker believes in producing few hats and looking for the maximum profit on each, protected by tariff.

The shoemaker aims to keep down the cost of his shoes through mass production and make money through free trade and exporting them.

It might be a tale for our times as the global economic crisis bites ever more deeply and protectionism rears its head.

But The Shoemaker and the Hatter was an animated film made in Britain in 1950. It became one of the most popular of the films made to help promote what was known as the Marshall Plan, the post-World War II project for European recovery.

Now, a number of the Marshall Plan films have been shown to audiences at the Barbican Centre in London as interested archivists bring a cross-section of the films together as “Selling Democracy” to show them to contemporary audiences in the US and Europe.

Lost from view for more than five decades, the films went beyond underpinning the free market principles of the economic revival and reconstruction that was at the heart of the Marshall Plan.

They also sought to shore up democracy and counter totalitarianism of any kind.

Another British-made animated film, Without Fear, looks at Europe’s condition five years after the end of World War II and speculates about the divided continent’s future.

West Europeans are invited to consider whether they want the unity but not liberty of the East or want to put their efforts into creating a more prosperous and just society in the West.

A red tide washes over the whole of Europe to assist the decision-making.

Effective propaganda

The Marshall Plan was officially known as the European Recovery Programme and launched in the name of the then American Secretary of State, George Marshall, in 1947.

Some $13bn (£8.7bn) in economic and technical assistance was provided to participant countries over four years — the equivalent today of some $90bn (£60bn).

Dr Rainer Rother, of the German Historical Museum-Kinemathek, says the approach to promoting the Marshall Plan appears to have been to “do good and speak about it”.

Public information initiatives were well-funded and the films were effective propaganda for “Western values”.

Of more than 250 films made, only a few were seen in the US due to a law preventing them being shown as Americans were not to be “propagandised” with their own tax money.

Sandra Schulberg is a film producer who describes herself as a child of the Marshall Plan. Her father, Stuart Schulberg, was one of the chiefs of the Marshall Plan Motion Picture Section.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Obama Administration Withdraws Proposed Concessions to Hamas

by Barry Rubin

This has become a very interesting situation. On May 1, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in congressional testimony, reinterpreted the proposal discussed below to make it clear that the United States did not embrace the proposal (earlier raised by the French) to back a PA coalition with Hamas. She said that every individual minister of such a government would have to accept the quartet provisions that included recognizing Israel and abandoning terrorism. This would effetively rule out U.S. aid to a Fatah-Hamas coalition (which isn’t going to happen any way).

This tells us that the Obama administration is continuing to put a priority on maintaining strong U.S.-Israel relations—despite many predictions to the contrary and misinterpretations of what it has said or done. One can either view the previous initiative on Hamas as a trial balloon that got shot down or as a mistake whose correction shows the underlying main line of administration policy.

The original proposal might eventually have become its first step directly damaging U.S.-Israel relations and injuring Israel’s interests, the Obama administration has reportedly proposed allowing American aid to go to a Palestinian Authority (PA) even if Hamas, which is designated in U.S. law as a terrorist group, would be participating in it.

If the administration had gone forward with it, the proposal would have reflected badly on the administration’s judgment and understanding of the Middle East? Not for the reasons you probably think.

First, it is unnecessary. There is no immediate need or strategic gain to be made by such a step (quite the contrary, as we shall see in a moment). Hamas isn’t in coalition with the PA nor does it have any prospect of joining. The negotiations are going badly and anyone with half a brain should be able to see that Fatah, which runs the PA, won’t accept Hamas’s domination and vice-versa.

What do you call someone in WashingtonDC who sacrifices political capital for nothing? Answer: extremely stupid.

As the great French foreign minister Charles de Talleyrand once put it, in international affairs blunders are worse than crimes. Talleyrand was not a very nice man. He never apologized for anything. He was a very successful diplomatist.

Second, though, the proposal is dangerous. It signals Hamas that the United States is ready to give it a concession without that group changing anything. Go on, the administration appears to be saying, being terrorist, genocidal in intention, antisemitic, and incredibly repressive of your own people. Why should that stop us giving you money and recognition in future?

And it signals Fatah and the PA that the United States wants them to make a coalition with Hamas. That’s the way people think in the Middle East and U.S. officials are supposed to understand this. You can bet your real assets that at this very moment in Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus people are saying: Obama is now backing Hamas!

As such, it gives aid and comfort to those in Fatah who think that the two Palestinian groups should join to fight Israel…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Hizbullah’s Struggle to Change the Lebanese Regime

Shimon Shapira and Yair Minzili

  • The publication of Hizbullah’s subversive plan against Egypt and the exposure of a Shiite group headed by a Hizbullah activist that planned to act against Egyptian targets diverted attention from the challenge that Hizbullah has made against the very foundations of Lebanese authority.
  • On April 3, 2009, Hizbullah published its political platform in advance of elections to the Lebanese parliament scheduled for June 7, 2009. The document calls for the abolition of sectarian politics and for the enactment of a new election law that would alter the equation of sectarian forces in Lebanon.
  • In this manner, Hizbullah seeks to destroy the foundations of the sectarian regime in Lebanon agreed upon in the National Pact of 1943 that has been preserved by the Lebanese state ever since. The abolition of the existing political system will advance Hizbullah toward its fundamental goal: the establishment of an Islamic state and a complete Iranian takeover of Lebanon.
  • The scholarly analyses that define Hizbullah as a Lebanese national movement are baseless. What Lebanese national interests are served by subversive activity in Egypt? What Lebanese interests seek the transfer of Iranian arms from Sudan and Sinai to Gaza? What national Lebanese ideology seeks to subvert the delicate sectarian structure upon which the modern Lebanese state is predicated?…

           — Hat tip: JCPA [Return to headlines]

In Israel, Solar Power That Won’t Need Subsidies

On Monday, ZenithSolar unveiled a new solar dish that could make the cost of solar energy competitive with fossil fuels.

In a country that ranks among the world’s highest for average number of sunny days per year, solar energy has long been seen as a key natural resource here.

All the more fitting that on the eve of its Independence Day Israel launched what it said was the first solar farm of its kind, billed as a breakthrough that will make it affordable to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The technology, a system of rotating dishes made up of mirrors, is capable of harnessing up to 75 percent of incoming sunlight — roughly five times the capacity of traditional solar panels. In addition, using mirrors to reduce the number of photovoltaic cells needed, it makes the cost of solar energy roughly comparable to fossil fuels.

While this technology has been implemented elsewhere, Israeli start-up ZenithSolar — working in conjunction with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University — is a pioneer in combining it with a water-based cooling system that increases the photovoltaic cells’ efficiency and produces thermal energy to boot.

“We’re the first to develop a cogeneration machine which will harness sunlight to produce thermal energy together with electrical energy at the same time,” said Roy Segev, founder and CEO of ZenithSolar, at a launch party Monday at this kibbutz, or communal agricultural settlement, located on Israel’s coastal plain east of Ashdod. This flagship plot of 16 dishes known as “Z20”s — which look like semiflattened satellite dishes with the texture of a disco ball — will generate about half of the total energy needs of this community of some 200 families.

Related story: Click here for a video showing how MIT students concentrated the sun’s rays so intensely that they were able to light a wooden 2-by-4 on fire.

Israel has long sought to make the most of its location: the Negev Desert, not far from here, gets about 330 sunny days in a year. Israel recruited its first solar-energy pioneer in 1949 just after the state was founded, and Israelis have have been using solar panels on their roofs to heat water for decades — more than 1 million households in a nation of 7 million have such setups, according to a recent Business Week report.

In June 2008, the government introduced a feed-in tariff, a program launched with great success in Germany and elsewhere that enables smaller-scale producers of renewables to compete in the energy market.

In 20 years, virtually free electricity?

Only recently has there been a push in Israel to commercialize solar energy. Sollel, another Israeli company that developed a solar-powered turbine, signed a deal in 2007 with Pacific Gas and Electric Company to build what promises to be the world’s largest solar plant in California’s Mojave Desert.

But the idea of affordable solar energy on a mass scale had a place in Professor David Faiman’s heart for decades. Originally from London, “where I was vaguely aware that there was a sun in the sky,” he came to Israel in 1973 as a physicist. Shortly afterward, the oil crisis of the 1970s began.

“I did a lot of soul-searching because of the energy crisis. I thought it was crazy that the whole world should be at the beck and call of a small group of countries that have oil, whereas we all have sun,” he says in an interview in the shade. That swayed him to switch over to Ben-Gurion University’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, where he is now chairman of the department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics. Professor Faiman also directs Israel’s National Solar Energy Center.

Faiman’s area of research involves not just harnessing the sun but increasing its intensity. The idea is referred to as CPV — Concentrating Photovoltaics — a technology in which mirrors increase the light incident onto semiconductors, which increases energy output.

“By using mirrors to concentrate the sun’s light, you cut down by 1,000 the amount of photovoltaic material you need, and you’ve essentially opened the door to affordable photovoltaics,” explains the white-bearded professor, a straw hat on his head to protect himself from the afternoon blaze, already strong even on a mild April day. “The beauty of the mirror-based system is that since you have to cool it, you can get 50 percent more energy out of it in the form of hot water.”

He says that after the installation of such a system is paid for — one Z20 would now run about $15,000 a pop — electricity or water-heating costs would be mostly based on maintenance costs, rather than pricey fuel.

“The world is consuming the energy equivalent of 200 million barrels of oil a day,” Faiman says. “If we can reduce that, the environmental footprint will be enormous…. And in 20 years, if we in Israel move in this direction, 60 to 70 percent of our electricity needs will not cost anything, and at that stage, what you pay will be based on the operation and maintenance costs.”

A dig at oil-rich adversaries

ZenithSolar hopes to offer its technology further afield. But can it work everywhere, even in the places without nearly as much sun? Faiman says it can, since the machines track the sun even on a cloudy day, but it might not be cost-effective.

Faiman, who is about to embark on a lecture tour in the US, explains that it would not be worthwhile to open a farm in Illinois or Pennsylvania, he found. But it would work to build one in El Paso, Texas, and then ship the electricity north.

“It turns out that in the case of Texas, it would be thoroughly cost-effective for the amount of sun available there,” he says. “Other states could buy it from Texas and transfer it by cable.”

The very use of the word “farm” to refer to these massive dishes planted in dirt puts a new spin on an old motto about making the desert bloom. As one of Israel’s veteran founders, Israeli President Shimon Peres, spoke at the inaugural ribbon-cutting here, he made a bold prediction that the technology would empower countries that lack oil — Israel among them — and made something of a dig at the countries which have oil.

“Today, terrorism is nourished mainly from those countries that have oil, including Iran,” Mr. Peres said. “Solar energy is democratic and it can change the face of the world.”

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Far East

China: ‘Green’ Lightbulbs Poison Workers

Hundreds of factory staff are being made ill by mercury used in bulbs destined for the West

Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which forms part of the compact fluorescent lightbulbs. A surge in foreign demand, set off by a European Union directive making these bulbs compulsory within three years, has also led to the reopening of mercury mines that have ruined the environment.

Doctors, regulators, lawyers and courts in China — which supplies two thirds of the compact fluorescent bulbs sold in Britain — are increasingly alert to the potential impacts on public health of an industry that promotes itself as a friend of the earth but depends on highly toxic mercury.


“In tests, the mercury content in my blood and urine exceeded the standard but I was not sent to hospital because the managers said I was strong and the mercury would be decontaminated by my immune system,” said one young female employee, who provided her identity card.

“Two of my friends were sent to hospital for one month,” she added, giving their names also.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Illegal Immigrants Who Overstay Visas Will No Longer be Put in Detention Camps

  • Visa overstayers won’t be locked up
  • Instead they will be invited in for chat
  • May get temporary bridging visas

ILLEGAL immigrants will no longer be locked up and deported when caught by authorities, in a major softening of immigration procedures.

Instead, people who overstay their visas will be invited into an immigration office and could even get temporary bridging visas.

Immigration officers have been instructed not to detain visa violators unless they are known to be violent criminals or have previously been instructed to leave.

Until last week, illegal foreigners were immediately detained at detention centres and put on planes home within weeks.

The new approach is in line with a general softening of immigration policy by the Rudd Government.

Under the policy, officers are required to issue illegal foreigners with bridging visas and work with them to get them home.

“We basically have to invite them into the office for a coffee,” an insider within the department said.

“They can get a couple of weeks or six months, whatever it takes to get them home without detaining them.”

Mandatory detention was axed last year, but until now only asylum seekers have been allowed to live in the community.

The new directive from Immigration Minister Chris Evans’ office was issued to immigration officers verbally last week.

There are almost 50,000 visa overstayers living illegally in Australia.

More than one in 10 is from China.

Entrants from the US, Malaysia and Britain are also big overstayers.

Most come in on tourist visas, but about 3600 are foreign students who disappear into the community when their course is over.

The Government has also closed down offshore processing facilities on Nauru and Manus Island.

Senator Evans’ directive has divided opinion within department ranks, with some fearing the softer approach could send a dangerous message.

“I guess it says people can pretty much do whatever they want now,” the insider said.

“They’ve been caught, but they can stay and go home when they want.”

The move could open the floodgates for unwelcome visitors.

“It certainly could be open for exploitation,” the insider said. “Prisons are not nice places to be in. Many of these people are not criminals, but I guess it doesn’t convey a strong message.”

Senator Evans said detention would only be used as a last resort.

“The presumption will be that persons will remain in the community while their immigration status is resolved,” he said.

“If a person is complying with immigration processes and is not a risk to the community, then detention in a detention centre cannot be justified.

“The department will have to justify a decision to detain — not presume detention.”

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Obama’s Grandmother to Perform Muslim Hajj

‘Mama Sarah’ will go to Mecca for Islamic pilgrimage required by Quran

JERUSALEM — President Barack Obama’s paternal grandmother, Sarah Obama, will reportedly perform the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage this year along with her son Syeed Obama.

A private Kenyan television channel, quoted extensively by the Kenyan and Pakistani media, reported Sarah Obama and her son will also visit Dubai before going to Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj. The pair lives in Kenya.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Ahmadinejad Cancels Trip to Brazil

I just got word that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has canceled his upcoming state visit to Brazil, which was scheduled for May 6 at President Lula’s invitation.

Brazilian blogger David Bor states that made the announcement without stating a reason for the cancellation.

However, yesterday there were huge demonstrations throughout Brazil from Christian, Jewish, gay rights, women’s, and human rights groups protesting the invitation.

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Sex Instruction Book Where Did I Really Come From? Aimed at Toddlers

  • Sex instruction book aimed at toddlers
  • Teaches about lesbian sex and sperm donors
  • NSW Attorney-General denies any link to book

A BOOK which teaches children about lesbian mums getting pregnant using sperm donors is being pitched at kids as young as two.

The controversial publication, Where Did I Really Come From?, also features a drawing of two gay men holding a baby in a chapter about surrogacy.

The publisher’s marketing spruiks the book, which includes in-depth descriptions of sexual intercourse, as suitable to be read to two-year-olds.

It was being advertised at some Sydney book stores and inside the cover as being part of the New South Wales Attorney General Office’s Learn to Include program, the Daily Telegraph reported today.

But Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said this morning: “There is no connection between the Attorney-General’s office and the book Where Did I Really Come From.

“Nor is there any connection between the Attorney-General’s Department and the book.

“The NSW Government has not funded or endorsed the book at any time. Any assertion to the contrary is incorrect..”

In a chapter on assisted conception, the book tells children: “Sometimes, a woman really wants to have a baby but she doesn’t want to have intercourse with a man.

“Some women want to bring up a baby by themselves, or with another woman, so the baby gets two mums.”

Angry family advocates claim the book targets children too young.

“It devalues the traditional family unit and at the very least desensitises us,” Focus On The Family spokeswoman Deb Sorensen said yesterday.

The book was first penned in the early 1990s, but has been updated.

Author Narelle Wickham defended the book, describing it as a mainstream publication which just went further about ways of conceiving children.

“It is just trying to normalise to children that there are many ways to conceive a child,” she said.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]


Fighting Mid-Life Flab? We Reveal the Hormonal Truth About Middle Age Spread

But it’s not necessarily your diet — or lack of self discipline — that’s to blame, says American gynaecologist and pharmacist, Dr C W Randolph.

He claims midlife spread in both men and women is the result of hormonal imbalance, specifically too little progesterone and too much oestrogen. And the problem with too much oestrogen is that the hormone acts like a fat magnet, locking it in around your middle.

As Dr Randolph explains, in a healthy person there is a finely-tuned balance between the three sex hormones: oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. But as we age, that balance changes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Slaughtered by Their Own

From Pakistan to Sudan, many Muslim societies are suffused with poisonous, murderous racism

The following is an edited excerpt of a speech delivered last week at the Durban Review Conference (Durban II) in Geneva, Switzerland.

As I speak to you, I am deeply disappointed that my colleague Milly Nsekalije, a survivor of the 1994 massacre of Rwandan Tutsis, could not share her story with all of you. The reason: In the eyes of some, she cannot have been a victim of the genocide since she is not 100% Tutsi.

What does it say about the state of racism in our world when the victims of a genocide practise exclusion on the basis of the so-called purity of blood lines and ethnicity?

Worse than her exclusion from to-day’s event is the fact that it has happened at a conference meant to combat racism. As this shows, we have turned the concept of racism upside down.

Racism operates not just as a black/ white divide, but also as a cancer that affects relations between people of colour — people who often share the same religion, but have different shades of brown or black skin.

This internalized racism, which devours the people of the developing world in Asia and Africa from within, is too often left out of the discussion of racism.

This afternoon, I would like to shed some light on two genocides — one happened in 1970-71 in what is now Bangladesh; and the other that continues as I speak in the Darfur region of Sudan. In both instances, the root of the problem lay with one group of Muslims feeling they were racially superior to their victims, who also happened to be Muslim. In both cases, the doctrine of racial superiority and the practice of institutional racism went unchallenged, even after the horrible consequences of such racism were evident and for all to see.

In 1970, my country of birth, Pakistan, was divided in two: an eastern part that is today known as Bangladesh and the western rump, which survived a subsequent war with India as the state we now know as Pakistan.

East Pakistan was inhabited by the darker-skinned Bengali people who happened to be the majority community of Pakistan, but found themselves ruled by a lighter-skinned minority from what was known as West Pakistan.

In the first 25 years of the country’s history, the racist depiction of the darker-skinned Bengalis as an inferior and incapable people became the unquestioned dogma among the ruling minority. The darker-skinned Bengalis’ culture was portrayed as un-Islamic and influenced by Hinduism. Their music, cuisine and attire were mocked, and their language was banned, leading to widespread protests and deaths in 1952.

In 1970, after suffering under the minority rule of West Pakistan for 25 years, the people of East Pakistan voted to elect a party based in their region, and gained a clear majority in the country’s national parliament.

However, the racist view that Bengali people were incapable of ruling the country, or that they were traitors to the fair-skinned minority of West Pakistan, led to a military intervention and widespread massacres over a 10-month period.

The killing of the Bengali people by the West Pakistan army stopped only when India intervened and defeated the Pakistan Armed Forces, but not before hundreds of Bengali intellectuals, professors, poets, authors, musicians and painters were rounded up and massacred.

All told, one million Muslims were murdered by fellow Muslims in an orgy of hate that defied the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, whose religious authority was being invoked by the Pakistan army.

One would have hoped that this genocide would have served as a cautionary tale. But the sad fact is that racism in the Islamic world has remained ubiquitous in the years that followed…

           — Hat tip: AA [Return to headlines]

2 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 5/4/2009

  1. Islam is dual in nature, and is the main reason for its survival. It has been able to switch between the cruel and merciless to the benign at a moments notice. If this were not so, it would have been eliminated a long while ago.

    This duality allows Muslims to quote “The Koran teaches you that the saving of one life is as if you saved all of humanity”.” etc, and at the same time commit genocide against Hindus, Armenians, Sudanese Christians, and fellow Muslims, without a trace of guilt or embarrassment.

    I believe the oft quoted Koranic verse “of saving a life” etc comes from the Talmud.

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